So many have been written and this is my memory of Sir Michael Somare, the person. I could write a hundred of them but there would not be time enough.
In 2005, on the eve of PNG’s 30th Independence celebrations, I went with a crew to interview Sir Michael Somare at his Boroko home on the hill behind PIH.
It was a nervous moment, I had the equipment and audio checked and rechecked. Joe Sabbath was the cameraman.
I began by asking him the usual… about his thoughts 30 years ago before Independence and what the mood was like. The interview was conducted in Tok Pisin. I must say, it is and always has been a pleasure talking to Sir Michael and Sir Julius. It is like talking to walking encyclopedias of PNG politics and history. They can refer to names people and places with a chronology of events so detailed that you always need a recorder.
When all the questions had been answered I said, “Sir Michael, this is a personal question… nothing to do with politics.
“Mipla save lo yu olsem Prime Minister na Papa blo kantri…Yu gat biknem lo olgeta hap lo Pacific na world…
“Mi laik save, taim yu stap lo haus, husait i boss? Yu o Mama…,” I said referring to Lady Veronica.
In typical Sir Michael Somare fashion, he leaned forward and peered over his glasses which had slid down the bridge of his nose. Then tilted his head slightly to one side as asked as he raised his eyebrows: “Yu marit?”
I started to laugh… He laughed and nodded his head as well..
“Em naaaau… Taim yu stap arasait, em yu boss… Taim yu kam lo haus, wanem samting mama toktok yu harim na mekim tasol…”
While it seemed a small part of the story at the time, it was indeed a HUGE part of the story. Here was a man who was paying tribute to his wife and mother of his children. Someone who acknowledged the power of the matriarch in the home.